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Louisville floats toll bridge idea across the river

Near the tail end of a 4-1/2-hour meeting Monday night the Harrison County Board of Commissioners said thanks but no thanks to an offer from the Louisville Metro Council to join forces to construct a toll bridge from southwestern Louisville across the Ohio River to southeastern Harrison County.
‘They want to create a bridge commission, and they are asking for participation from us,’ Harrison County engineer Darin Duncan told the commissioners shortly before midnight.
‘We could tell them we would be supportive of their effort; we would do anything in our power to help, but we need to see state involvement,’ Commissioner J.R. Eckart said in response to the query from Louisville District 25 Councilman Doug Hawkins.
‘This is a little bigger project than the commissioners need to be involved with,’ said Commissioner James Goldman. ‘This would be a state project. I don’t see that it should be in our jurisdiction.
‘I’m more interested in blacktopping Opossum Trail,’ he added ‘ with a sly grin.
‘That would put the hurt on our farmland/forest preservation efforts,’ Commissioner Jim Heitkemper mused out loud.
‘Has anybody considered a gondola?’ Eckart asked, chuckling as he recalled the early proposal Caesars’ had for a gondola system to transport patrons across the river. That proposal died in the early stages of development of the casino complex at Bridgeport, just upriver from the proposed toll bridge.
Duncan said he would advise the Louisville councilman to contact the Indiana Dept. of Transportation regarding the proposal.
According to Hawkins’ letter, the Louisville Metro Bridge Commission would build a multi-lane span, ‘funded exclusively by tolls,’ between Kentucky Highway 1230 and Indiana S.R. 111, which runs north and south alongside the river from New Albany to New Boston and Old Dam 43.
From 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles would be expected to use the bridge daily.
Bonds would be issued by the bridge commission to finance the project, and Hawkins said the only debt to finance the project would be incurred by the bridge commission, which is an independent government agency under Kentucky law.
Once bonds were sold, Hawkins said the bridge could be constructed within three years. He estimates the entire project would take no longer than 10 years.
‘Commission needs permission to cross the state boundary and to connect to an Indiana public highway,’ Hawkins wrote. ‘Some minor land acquisition may be necessary for Indiana 111 interchange. Commission would fully compensate appropriate Indiana government agency for any real estate acquired by eminent domain for this project.
‘I hope this information is of use to you, and I look forward to working on this great project with all the friendly citizens of Harrison County, Indiana,’ Hawkins concluded.
Of more immediate importance, the commissioners discussed two bridge projects in partnership with Crawford County, a new Interstate-64 interchange west of Corydon, reconstruction of a dangerous intersection, and a connector road from Lanesville to Georgetown. The commissioners voted unanimously to seek funding from the council for five other construction projects, already underway or in the planning, and a preliminary public meeting on another.
Those are:
‘ The Crandall-Lanesville Road extension to S.R. 64 at Georgetown; $705,700 is needed in riverboat infrastructure money for preliminary costs. That amount will cover the costs of the survey, route selection, environmental studies, geology evaluation and project management costs of the federally-funded project, expected to total $18.4 million. Construction is expected to take several years.
‘ Redesign and construction of the Corydon-Ramsey Road and Sival Road intersection; $110,000 is needed to complete the design. A contract with JWA/HMB Indiana is expected to be signed at the commissioner’s Aug. 16 meeting. Currently, the intersection has the highest rate of accidents in the county. The federally-funded project is expected to improve safety for motorists.
‘ Replacement of the Milltown Bridge and Rothrock’s Mill Bridge, two projects planned this year in conjunction with Crawford County; $500,000 is needed, $100,000 for the design of the Milltown Bridge. The balance of that project will be federally funded. The Rothrock Mill Bridge, closed since Dec. 3, 2003, will be rebuilt downstream. Actually, the bridge will be delivered to the site in precast sections and assembled at the site, Duncan said. Harrison County’s share of the costs is $400,000, which is 60 percent of the costs. Crawford will pay 40 percent.
‘ Four bids were opened on the first phase of the Corydon-New Middletown Road redesign. The bids ranged from a high of $1.3 million to a low of $1.03 million. The bids were taken under advisement and are expected to be awarded at the Aug. 2 meeting. The engineer’s estimate is $1.09 million.
‘ A ‘stakeholders’ meeting was scheduled for Sept. 1 concerning the proposed Interstate-64 interchange west of Corydon. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m., and is tentatively set to be at the Leora Brown School in Corydon.